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Charles Bovary, a mediocre and dull man, has his life planned out for him by his mother. She marries him to a widow, who dies shortly after marriage. He then falls in love with Emma, who has fantasies about what married life should be. Charles falls short of those fantasies. Emma soon begins to wander, living beyond her means, and quite carelessly. After the birth of their child, she settles down for a bit, but only stays tame for so long...
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ISBN: 9781625587169
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I hated this book when it was assigned to me my senior year of high school. Assuming I'd changed since then, I gave it another go. Turns out I had good sense as an 18-year-old. I'm putting it down after 170 unsatisfying pages.more
Perhaps I've been reading too much classic literature lately, but I didn't find Madame Bovary all that special -- it probably didn't help that I read another novel with an affair of a similar nature in it, Anna Karenina, just now. In terms of characters, I found it quite realistic: I could believe in all of the characters. Emma, unable to find any satisfaction, quickly getting bored; Charles, a little dense, boring, loving; all the more minor characters. The descriptions of their lives felt realistic, too. But I found it hard to get absorbed in the story: probably because, despite recognising her as a well-written, realistic character, I don't identify with Emma Bovary at all.more
I had attempted this book a couple year ago, but was confounded by a bad translation. Then I heard about Lydia Davis's new, highly touted translation through the New York Times book review podcast. It's everything they say. Beautifully done.

This novel is so psychologically realistic, the result of such careful observation of human behavior, that it's amazing it came out in the mid-nineteenth century. Not only that, but it's an early feminist novel!

Emma Roualt is a farm girl who has been given a good convent education by her father. She longs for the finer things in life. Music, art, romance, the company of cultured people. She ends up marrying Charles Bovary, a barely competent physician, and a dull man in the bargain. With him she relocates to a small town where everybody knows everybody, has a child, and of course, becomes very unhappy.

Her unhappiness comes not only from her dissatisfaction with her dull, unambitious husband and the life they share, but also from her awareness of the lack of freedom experienced by women in her society. Her sadness allows to to place her hopes for a better life successively, in two adulterous affairs. Rodolphe, the gentleman farmer, has ignoble intentions toward her from the start. Leon, the young law clerk, is too immature to know what he wants.

Serving as sort of a Greek chorus is Homais, the apothecary, who is the Bovarys' next door neighbor. He's a pompous twit who has a number of comic monologues.

In order to finance the tissue of lies she's concocted to carry on her affairs, Emma makes an association with a dry goods merchant who plays with her like a fish on a line, loaning her sums of money and coaxing her to sign promissory notes which eventually come due.

The ending of the book is very dark, but realistic.more
somewhere a reviewer called it a 'buddhist morality tale on the futility of desire' which pretty much sums it up for me.more
It's been a few years since I read this book, but I remember thinking how pathetic Ms. Bovary was. I could not develop any sympathy for her whatsoever and thought she was one of those who thought love was about first kisses and butterflies in the stomach. Perhaps she watched too many soap operas. Anyway, not a female character in literature I would aspire to be. Read Little Women or some Jane Austen.more
Three and a half stars, uprated to 5 stars because I can't get it out of my head. 9 April 2012.

Not sure what to make of it. The self-obsessed Emma Bovary was obviously (to me) a side of Flaubert himself. She feels that there is so much more but her limited life fences her in and instead of drawing into herself, seeing what she has to offer, how to make the best of herself, she wants happiness to come to her just as it does in the romance novels she, and Flaubert, read.

I understood that spiritual flailing around, turning this way and that, using looks to make up for depth, using sex to pass for love, and enjoying fooling those she lived with into believing what they saw was what they got. We've all been a bit shallow at times, but to have made a whole career, a whole life of it, no!

But then Emma departs from the author and becomes entirely his creation. She doesn't think forward, thinks her beauty will solve all. Thinks that those who say they love her don't mean they love having an affair, having sex, with her but that they love her deeply and for all time. Not that she is capable of loving that way herself either, so maybe she really didn't know what it meant. Her idea of love is the bodice-ripper, secret affair, always-exciting, happily-ever-after variety, except her affairs die when the men are satiated with this demanding woman. She can't even conceive of real-life nurturing of her child or being supportive, that's for fools like her husband. She always thinks someone will be there to pamper her and indulge her and that there will never be any consequences, that the piper will not call round to be paid for his pretty tune.

Such a sad story, so beautifully written and it deserves a far better review than these few lines but I felt like writing down my first reaction on finishing the book, I don't want the emotions to wear off and have to analyse it critically, it wasn't that sort of experience for me.more
I'm still working out a review in my head, but for now: this book is perfect.more
What a selfish, charmless woman. There is nothing about her to recommend her.more
I found Emma Bovary to be a most unsympathetic character. I finished it, but not because I cared what happenedmore
Flaubert is flawless as a writer. It was Nabokov in his tome on Russian Literature which led me to discover him.
This is world reknowned famous story of the tragic lives of Madame Bovary and her husband Mousier Bovary, a double tragedy where unbeknowns to either of them their losses are reflected in the ways their lives end up in a state of tragic self-destruction. Well worth the read and I will definitely read more Flaubert.more
I could not finish this book. I simply despised the main character.more
I felt obligated to read this novel since I had a used copy lying around free for the taking and Nabokov had praised it so highly, but I wasn't particularly looking forward to it. Because I had heard that the eponym was pretty unsympathetic, and the course of the plot was dreary and depressing. Well, it turns out I didn't hear wrong: Emma is horrible and nothing good happens for all 400 pages of it - but I hadn't been told the most important thing about the book, which is that it's a black comedy. The incredible pettiness and stupidity of all of the characters' (not just Emma's) self absorption and the way they hurtle towards their own ruin as if filled with zeal for the prospect make it an entertaining spectacle. An ironic anti-spectacle as everything about their fuckups is unrelievedly trite and banal. It's like watching a trainwreck, and then watching someone get the bright idea of clearing the wreckage from the tracks by ramming another train into them, and then following through on that idea by sending two trains one from each side. It's glorious in it's utter lack of gloriousness.I'm going to dock it a star though because in my current mood I really could have done with something a little more upbeat.more
I'll think I'll end up reading this one again. I really enjoyed the story and the found the progression of the plot to be realistic (if not always satisfying). I can't decide how I feel about Emma Bovary. I get the sense that I may get a different impression of this book if I read it in a more allegorical, more dispassionate frame of mind.more
I am really enjoying diving into these books with only whatever vague notions about them I have picked up over the years. What I knew about Madame Bovary when I started it: she has an affair? So I was a little thrown when the book started with some boy named Charles who was going to school and being made fun of, and we followed him on to being a not-very-good student and a not-very-confident doctor. He marries a woman chosen by his mother, but although both of them have the same name, neither his mother nor this wife are the Madame Bovary. The wife is a widow who is supposed to be rich, but she is older and not very attractive. Finally, when Charles attends to a man on his farm and meets the man's daughter Emma, I realize she will become the title Madame Bovary.And so she does, after the widow dies and a decent amount of time has passed. Emma is beautiful and vivacious, and positive that married life will be incredibly romantic, just like in the novels. Soon, she realizes that she is not exactly swept away by a great love for Charles. She finds herself attracted to a young man in their town, and they do that dance of wondering if the other one is interested, but no one will come out and say it because it would be unseemly. Eventually, he leaves town. Emma tries devoting herself to being the best wife (and mother, there is a child in the book who is clearly not on Emma's radar and therefore not really on ours), but she finds that she now not only doesn't have that all-consuming love for Charles, she kind of can't stand him. What to do, what to do? Enter Rodolphe, who we are introduced to as a serial seducer. At this point, I started calling Emma "poor, stupid Madame Bovary." Of course, she falls for him. Of course, he is not nearly as committed as she is. And it doesn't end well for her. There's a lot more plot after that, but I really want to talk about what the book is saying. Two things stood out to me. One: adultery is just as boring as marriage if you carry it on long enough. Two: adultery is bad, but buying on credit is worse. I enjoyed the read, although the last 10% was sort of pointless to me. Some quotes:"Charles's conversation was commonplace as a street pavement, and everyone's ideas trooped through it in their everyday garb, without exciting emotion, laughter, or thought.""But the disparaging of those we love always alienates us from them to some extent. We must not touch our idols; the gilt sticks to our fingers.""Besides, speech is a rolling-mill that always thins out the sentiment."more
What an incredibly unpleasant woman! I usually have nothing against an unlikeable protagonist, as they often make for interesting reading subjects, but this Madame Bovary had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Fickle, vain, selfish, materialistic, disloyal, unappreciative and self-delusional as she was, I kept waiting for something truly horrible to happen, other than her habitual small hypocritical cruelties to her husband and her constant infidelity. (slight spoiler here) Her tragic end was too long in coming and even there, she somehow didn't offer satisfaction. (end of spoiler) She is bored with her life, married to a husband who idolizes her but offers little intellectual or romantic stimulation, she is bored with her little daughter and her perfect little bourgeois home, even as her husband puts no restriction on her spending so she can decorate it with every possible amenity she might desire. She is bored with reading... bored with life. The kind of woman who, even were she to live in this modern world and have all the choices she might desire, would probably still marry a boring rich man so she could go right on being bored and insufferable. I only rated this book with three stars because it IS Flaubert who writes beautifully of course, but I was bored out of my mind throughout. Maybe it's catching?more
BkC153) Flaubert, Gustave, [MADAME BOVARY] (tr. Lydia Davis): Classic novel, deathless. Sorta like a literary zombie. Rating: 3* of fiveThe Book Description: As if one is really necessary. Well, here it is:A literary event: one of the world's most celebrated novels, in a magnificent new translation.Seven years ago, Lydia Davis brought us an award-winning, rapturously reviewed new translation of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way that was hailed as "clear and true to the music of the original" (Los Angeles Times) and "a work of creation in its own right" (Claire Messud, Newsday). Now she turns her gifts to the book that redefined the novel as an art form.Emma Bovary is the original desperate housewife. Beautiful but bored, she is married to the provincial doctor Charles Bovary yet harbors dreams of an elegant and passionate life. Escaping into sentimental novels, she finds her fantasies dashed by the tedium of her days. Motherhood proves to be a burden; religion is only a brief distraction. In an effort to make her life everything she believes it should be, she spends lavishly on clothes and on her home and embarks on two disappointing affairs. Soon heartbroken and crippled by debts, Emma takes drastic action with tragic consequences for her husband and daughter. When published in 1857, Madame Bovary was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for its heroine. Today the novel is considered the first masterpiece of realist fiction. Flaubert sought to tell the story objectively, without romanticizing or moralizing (hence the uproar surrounding its publication), but whereas he was famously fastidious about his literary style, many of the English versions seem to tell the story in their own style. In this landmark translation, Lydia Davis honors the nuances and particulars of a style that has long beguiled readers of French, giving new life in English to Flaubert's masterwork. My Review: Realism à la Balzac gets a hefty infusion of Romanticism. The novel will always be very important for this reason. It was Flaubert's trial for obscenity, due to his authorial refusal to explicitly condemn Emma Bovary for adultery, that opened the floodgates of “immoral” realistic fiction. If anyone needs any further reason to read the book, it's also got some juicy Faustian bargaining in it. Plus everybody dies. (Srsly how can anything about this famous book be a spoiler? Don't complain to me about it.)So the review is really about this translation by Lydia Davis. She's alleged to have done a fabulous, marvelous job.Uh huh.Then, in sudden tenderness and discouragement, Charles turned to his wife, saying:“Kiss me, my dear!”“Leave me alone!” she said, red with anger.“What is it? What is it?” he said, stupefied. “Calm yourself! Don't be upset!...You know how much I love you!...Come to me!”“Stop!” she shouted with a terrible look. (Part II, ch.8)Literal translation isn't always the best. Can you, like me, hear the nails and smell the sawdust as this wooden edifice is erected? Can you, like me, feel the uncertain sway of the uneven floorboards as we ascend ever farther up Flaubert's towering if creaky scaffolding?A well-furnished mind has Bovary in it. Unless you want to slug through the mannered 19th-century French, or have a high tolerance for sawdusty English prose, I'd say do the Cliffs Notes and call it good.more
When I was first reading Madame Bovary, I absolutely hated it. I don't mean that it filled me with feelings of disgust or anything like that; I just didn't care about anything that was happening at all. It was tedious and 'bleah,' and I was mostly reading it so that when I reached the end I could say that I'd done it. Also, I suspect that the translation that I read is not the best.But then, at exactly half-way through the book, things started happening and I actually took an interest in them. The first half took me several months of occasionally picking up the book to get through, a few pages at a time. I blazed through the second half of the book in a couple days.Without any detailed spoilers, I will describe it thus: there is a complete lack of sympathy but plenty of misbehavior, dissolution, ruination, desperation, woe, and lingering death followed by more ruination. I am apparently some sort of terrible person, because I enjoyed the h**l out of it. “More, more! Feed me your delicious despair! Omnomnomnomnom!” I'm glad that this edition had an afterward instead of a forward: introductions to classic books have a tendency to ruin the story for you if you don't already know it. (I didn't.)more
Okay, to be clear, this book was not at all what I thought it would be. I was, no lie, expecting torrid sex scenes. Why? I have no idea. I just was. Funny thing is, I don’t read anything even approaching erotica so I’m not sure where this thought came from. Obviously, something was lost in translation for me. Charles Bovary is a less than ambitious man but he’s a good man. A doctor by trade, he’s happy practicing in a quiet French hamlet. After he starts his medical practice, his mother finds him a wife; an older and rather unhappy woman who dies early on in their marriage leaving Charles the opportunity to find love. He believes he may have found it in a woman named Emma who he met while setting her father’s broken leg. Emma has dreams, the first of which is to get away from her father’s home, so when Charles asks, she agrees to marry him. Married life is agony for her. She has a pleasant home, a husband who cares for her immensely --- almost to the point of smothering her --- and she has few tangible complaints. What she wants is romance though. After attending a ball, it’s all she can think about and her boring life holds no interest for her. Charles decides that Emma needs a change of scenery and moves the family (a child will soon be born to the couple) to Yonville. Emma soon finds herself entranced by a law student, Léon Dupuis, who seems to return her affection. Appalled by her own thoughts, she refuses to act and Léon soon leaves to finish his degree. However, when Emma meets Rodolphe Boulanger, all thoughts of propriety go out the window and she gives in to his advances and starts the affair. She wants to run away, but Rodolphe, who has had several mistresses, decides that she is too clingy and breaks off the affair on the morning they’re to leave town together. Shattered by the end of the affair, Emma falls into a deep depression and sickness. When she finally recovers, Charles again tries to re-interest her in life this time believing the theatre will be the answer. It’s here that she once more meets Léon and begins her second affair. Lie after lie build up as do her debts. Emma is incapable of handling the lies or the debts and begins begging others for help, which doesn’t arrive. In a final dramatic act, she deals the only way she can. At first, I felt sorry for Charles. He was boring but loving. He wasn’t ambitious at all and was happy with his life. He had a beautiful wife and child and a medical practice that provided the necessities of life. But, again, he was boring. Then he tried to pin everything wrong with his wife on a nervous condition which annoyed me and any sympathy I may have had for the clueless husband vanished. Emma on the other hand, doesn’t exactly deserve any praise. She wants everything, expensive things, is constantly bored, obsessive, and refuses to see any good in her life. She’s always looking for the next best thing. And it must be said, she’s a horrid excuse for a mother. Emma is interesting though and the reason to keep reading because every other character in this book is flat. Toward the end though, when the proverbial dirty laundry is aired, everyone is at fault in some way or another and it’s hard to have any sympathy for any of the characters. My book had two additional sections at the end about the book itself, trials, bannings, etc. I didn’t read them. I think I wanted to look back on the book from my own perspective and not the perspective of a scandalous 19th Century trial discussing the need for a stricter moral code. Also, I think it would have made me upset and I enjoyed this book and didn’t want it to be marred. So, back to my first paragraph --- the sex. It’s there but it’s off screen. There’s kissing, there’s heavy petting, but shall we say, not what I was expecting considering the ruckus this book caused. Then again, that was back in the day. I don’t want to get into a discussion of morals, really, I’m the last person, but it’s an interesting part of this story and while I never felt lectured to, obviously, Emma is a lesson. But her character is more than simply a woman having an affair, she’s a woman unhinged but somewhat deserving of some understanding, even if it’s just to understand her depression better.more
What a wonderful novel -- and what a surprise! I read it in French fifty years and remembered virtually nothing except boredom (my own, and Emma's) and decided, now that I am retired and reading fiction, that I should try again. Emma's boredom is still there, as is Charles' stupidity, but oh, the pity of it all! Despite the fact that the novel evokes a time and place very powerfully, the story seemed timeless to me -- far more so than that of Anna Karenina, for example, who was to a large extent the victim of a specific social situation. Emma, in contrast, is a victim of her own illusions, which denies her the joy of being truly (if stupidly) loved.more
I had to read this book in school and in my memory the book was as boring as Emma Bovary found life itself but I thought it was worth rereading to see if several decades worth of reading in the meantime would change how i perceived the book. It has, naturally.It's the story of Emma who marries a doctor, Charles. She finds life in a small French village and marraige itself far different from what she thought it would be. She's bored, she finds it all, including motherhood, tedious. She becomes unfaithful and after two lovers, when that doesn't give her the satisfaction and happiness she craves, she then gets herself deeper and deeper into debt until she can see no way out.Emma is never happy. She grew up devouring romantic fiction and it's given her the perception of the ideal life. Romance, adventure, someone to put her on a pedestal and spoil her and love her. She finds out that life is not filled with white knights sweeping her off her feet yet she never lets go of that yearning and her affairs and spending habits are all her ways of trying to find that ideal. Her husband bumbles through life oblivious to her unhappiness or her escapades but the story isn't about him.The author has a lovely way with words and description and tells the story well if not a bit overly wordy at times. It's certainly better than how I remember it though it won't be to everyone's taste.more
I hated this book. Emma Bovary is boring, vain and without purpose. Charles Bovary as stupid and boring as his wife finds him. most of the other characters just annoying. I read up to the 200 page mark, the end of the affair with the odious Rodolphe, and lost the will to carry on. I then looked up the plot line in Wikipedia. The thought of another boring affair and a bad end for all was too much and I have given up. I fail to see why this is such an acclaimed book. It may be the translation, but I found nothing extraordinary or exciting about the prose, plot or characters.more
This book should have been the mister rather than the missus Bovary. In my opinion Charles Bovary is what you would call a nineteenth century sad sack. When we first meet Charles (for he starts and ends the book as you'll soon see) he is a shy student who grows up to become a second rate doctor (more on that later). He has an overbearing mother who convinces him to marry a much older, supposedly rich, but nevertheless nagging woman who makes him miserable. oh yeah, and add insult to injury, she's nowhere near wealthy. After the lying lady's death Charles meets Emma Rouault (our ahem - heroine), the daughter of Charles's patient. He falls in love and wins her heart only to have her mope about because her life soon after the wedding isn't exciting or wealthy enough. Poor Charles! But, the sad tale of Charles Bovary doesn't stop here. There's more! As mentioned before he is a second rate doctor so his attempts to heal a clubfooted patient fail miserably. That failure only irritates our dear Emma even more. She soon convinces herself she deserves better in the way of the company of other more exciting and accomplished men and by spending Charles's money. Emma convinces herself adultery isn't a sin because it's cloaked in beauty and romance and how can those things be bad? And isn't she, as Charles's wife, entitled to Charles's money? So, Charles is in debt and his father dies. What's left? Emma attempts suicide and our Doctor Bovary (irony of ironies) can't save her. After her death he finds her illicit love letters and learns of her infidelity...then he dies. The end.Nope. Not a stitch of happiness in this classic.more
Gustave Flaubert famously declared "No lyricism, no digressions, personality of the author absent", when commenting to his friend and literary confidant Louis Bouilhet about his tone of writing Madame Bovary. That is the hallmark of Flaubert's style and the aim of his hard work writing slowly to make sure he had just the right words. He became his characters, entered into their lives and dreamt their dreams. This resulted in the masterpiece that has become a classic of French literature.The story is one of a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. Though the basic plot is rather simple, even archetypal, the novel's true art lies in its details and hidden patterns. And in the psychological details portrayed by the author, for example in chapter seven: "for her, life was as cold as an attic with a window looking to the north, and ennui, like a spider, was silently spinning its shadowy web in every cranny of her heart." This, only one of many instances of the psychology of Madame Bovary and Flaubert's continuing search for le mot juste (the right word). Demonstrating the truth of Keats's dictum about truth and beauty, Flaubert achieves a mood of 'aesthetic mysticism' that has seldom been reached by others. The result is one that we as readers can enjoy and marvel at the power of his words.more
An inexperienced, passionate, romantic dreamer of a girl marries a boring, medicre, widowed, milksop, country doctor with predictable consequences.My feelings about Madame Bovary are ambiguous. At times the writing seemed uneven. There were many brilliant passages, but many that were not so great. That might have been the fault of the translation.I really couldn't sympathize with either Emma Bovary, nor her husband. The character that I had the most compassion for was Berthe, a minor character.I'm glad that I read this, though, because I did enjoy some of the more outstanding passages, and it was so rich with symbolism and other literary devices, such as foreshadowing.I can't help but conclude that Flaubert was a gifted writer.more
Language was not as absorbing as I'd heard to expect from Flaubert. Try another translation.more
Emma, the young daughter of a widowed farmer, is asked to marry the country doctor who's recently helped her father fix his broken leg. She has a romantic, unrealistic view of married life that contrasts with the reality of being married to a commonplace country doctor. Charles, her new husband, leads a boring life. Although he adores her, she finds his conversation mundane. She tries to love him but he does not fit the images she likes of a dashing husband, always attentive to her.They get invited to a ball at the house of the Marquis d'Andervilliers (hey! thanks to the Nook I can find this guy's name- don't you go and think that I'm so smart to memorize it while I was reading the book) and she and her husband Charles spend a few days at the Marquis's chateau. At the ball, while Charles watches a few guests plays card games, she spends the night waltzing with a young Viscount that matches her romantic images. After they return home, Emma spends her time daydreaming about the ball, the house, the Viscount and everything else she was exposed to during those few days. Her life is totally changed as she becomes more disaffected with her current life.After this time, she starts picking up lovers, one after another, and becomes engulfed in a world of passion based on lies and deceit. Her husband is totally ignorant of her adulterous behavior and, in fact, in one case facilitates her weekly rendezvous with her lover by encouraging her to take piano lessons in the town of Rouen. She spends her time in idyllic weekly encounters with Leon. All this time she is borrowing money to purchase clothes and signs bills of credit putting her husband's finances at risk. All the while he continues to be unaware of her infidelities and his financial difficulties.In the end, she faces the reality that all their belongings are put for sale to cover her debts and that Charles will find all out. Desperately she takes her life.more
Perhaps I'm not cynical enough to fully appreciate Flaubert's work. It's beautifully written, yet I found the majority of the characters unworthy of my, or any other reader's, sympathies (excluding Berthe, the poor child). I'm giving it a 4 because of the eloquent wording and the construction of the setting and people rather than any sort of literary "entertainment value." Probably wouldn't recommend it to everyone, and I surely wouldn't lend it to anybody about to get married, but it is a decent read as long as you're not hooked on happy endings.more
One of my favourite literary heroines is Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen's novel Emma. She is beautiful, rich and clever, but also lonely and bored. Without a close female companion of her own age, Emma relies on her own overactive imagination to entertain herself, and sets about matchmaking her friends and acquaintances, forcing improbable pairings and embarrassing everyone in the process. Only when she realises that the man of her own dreams has been right under her nose the whole time, does Emma stop inventing romances and settle down to her own happy ending. Emma Bovary, the eponymous heroine of Flaubert's novel, gets all of the above bass-ackwards. Her head filled with romantic stories, she dreams of meeting a passionate hero who will take her away from the oppressive countryside where she lives with her father, but instead she marries the first man who comes along and offers for her - Charles Bovary, a boring bourgeois country doctor. In love with the idea of being in love, Emma's romantic dreams are slowly suffocated when she realises how ordinary her life with Charles will be, so instead she seeks solace in shopping and having affairs with equally shallow men. Both distractions combine to destroy her. 'She merged into her own imaginings, playing a real part, realizing the long dream of her youth, seeing herself as one of those great lovers she had so long envied.'I didn't like Emma Bovary - although both Emmas have their faults, Austen's heroine also has some strength of character and independence of spirit. Flaubert's Emma is dependent on men to make her happy, but she is too superficial herself to notice that her lovers are only using her. In fact, I'm not sure she even cares! They are there to play a part in her romantic fantasies, and when they drop her, she starts looking for someone - or something - else to fill the void. Mme. Bovary isn't easy to care about - the original bored housewife, she is selfish, vain, materialistic and never content. Like Anna Karenina, I think we are meant to applaud that she breaks out of the confines of being a wife and mother, but unlike Tolstoy, Flaubert doesn't pity his heroine or demand the reader's sympathy, so I could put up with Emma's moping and mithering. In fact, all the characters are very believable in their faults and failings, especially poor unsuspecting Charles. Homais the chemist I could have done without, however. The only relevant part he plays in the whole novel is to supply the means to Emma's end.For a nineteenth century novel, Madame Bovary is still easy and enjoyable to read, with a dramatic - if rather Freudian - ending, and a cynical take on love and marriage.more
I wanted to punch Emma in the face throughout the entire book. Flaubert's writing made me continue the novel though. I enjoyed the novel, not because of the plot but because of the fact it was a realistic novel.I'm pretty sure I am the only person who actually cackled when Emma's death was painful. She is so dumb.more
I agree with Will Cuppy in preferring Salammbo to Mme. Bovary, but I felt I should have it as a classic. I was ashamed because once in class i said Mme. B. herself was stupid without having read it and a student who had read it disagreed.more
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Reviews

I hated this book when it was assigned to me my senior year of high school. Assuming I'd changed since then, I gave it another go. Turns out I had good sense as an 18-year-old. I'm putting it down after 170 unsatisfying pages.more
Perhaps I've been reading too much classic literature lately, but I didn't find Madame Bovary all that special -- it probably didn't help that I read another novel with an affair of a similar nature in it, Anna Karenina, just now. In terms of characters, I found it quite realistic: I could believe in all of the characters. Emma, unable to find any satisfaction, quickly getting bored; Charles, a little dense, boring, loving; all the more minor characters. The descriptions of their lives felt realistic, too. But I found it hard to get absorbed in the story: probably because, despite recognising her as a well-written, realistic character, I don't identify with Emma Bovary at all.more
I had attempted this book a couple year ago, but was confounded by a bad translation. Then I heard about Lydia Davis's new, highly touted translation through the New York Times book review podcast. It's everything they say. Beautifully done.

This novel is so psychologically realistic, the result of such careful observation of human behavior, that it's amazing it came out in the mid-nineteenth century. Not only that, but it's an early feminist novel!

Emma Roualt is a farm girl who has been given a good convent education by her father. She longs for the finer things in life. Music, art, romance, the company of cultured people. She ends up marrying Charles Bovary, a barely competent physician, and a dull man in the bargain. With him she relocates to a small town where everybody knows everybody, has a child, and of course, becomes very unhappy.

Her unhappiness comes not only from her dissatisfaction with her dull, unambitious husband and the life they share, but also from her awareness of the lack of freedom experienced by women in her society. Her sadness allows to to place her hopes for a better life successively, in two adulterous affairs. Rodolphe, the gentleman farmer, has ignoble intentions toward her from the start. Leon, the young law clerk, is too immature to know what he wants.

Serving as sort of a Greek chorus is Homais, the apothecary, who is the Bovarys' next door neighbor. He's a pompous twit who has a number of comic monologues.

In order to finance the tissue of lies she's concocted to carry on her affairs, Emma makes an association with a dry goods merchant who plays with her like a fish on a line, loaning her sums of money and coaxing her to sign promissory notes which eventually come due.

The ending of the book is very dark, but realistic.more
somewhere a reviewer called it a 'buddhist morality tale on the futility of desire' which pretty much sums it up for me.more
It's been a few years since I read this book, but I remember thinking how pathetic Ms. Bovary was. I could not develop any sympathy for her whatsoever and thought she was one of those who thought love was about first kisses and butterflies in the stomach. Perhaps she watched too many soap operas. Anyway, not a female character in literature I would aspire to be. Read Little Women or some Jane Austen.more
Three and a half stars, uprated to 5 stars because I can't get it out of my head. 9 April 2012.

Not sure what to make of it. The self-obsessed Emma Bovary was obviously (to me) a side of Flaubert himself. She feels that there is so much more but her limited life fences her in and instead of drawing into herself, seeing what she has to offer, how to make the best of herself, she wants happiness to come to her just as it does in the romance novels she, and Flaubert, read.

I understood that spiritual flailing around, turning this way and that, using looks to make up for depth, using sex to pass for love, and enjoying fooling those she lived with into believing what they saw was what they got. We've all been a bit shallow at times, but to have made a whole career, a whole life of it, no!

But then Emma departs from the author and becomes entirely his creation. She doesn't think forward, thinks her beauty will solve all. Thinks that those who say they love her don't mean they love having an affair, having sex, with her but that they love her deeply and for all time. Not that she is capable of loving that way herself either, so maybe she really didn't know what it meant. Her idea of love is the bodice-ripper, secret affair, always-exciting, happily-ever-after variety, except her affairs die when the men are satiated with this demanding woman. She can't even conceive of real-life nurturing of her child or being supportive, that's for fools like her husband. She always thinks someone will be there to pamper her and indulge her and that there will never be any consequences, that the piper will not call round to be paid for his pretty tune.

Such a sad story, so beautifully written and it deserves a far better review than these few lines but I felt like writing down my first reaction on finishing the book, I don't want the emotions to wear off and have to analyse it critically, it wasn't that sort of experience for me.more
I'm still working out a review in my head, but for now: this book is perfect.more
What a selfish, charmless woman. There is nothing about her to recommend her.more
I found Emma Bovary to be a most unsympathetic character. I finished it, but not because I cared what happenedmore
Flaubert is flawless as a writer. It was Nabokov in his tome on Russian Literature which led me to discover him.
This is world reknowned famous story of the tragic lives of Madame Bovary and her husband Mousier Bovary, a double tragedy where unbeknowns to either of them their losses are reflected in the ways their lives end up in a state of tragic self-destruction. Well worth the read and I will definitely read more Flaubert.more
I could not finish this book. I simply despised the main character.more
I felt obligated to read this novel since I had a used copy lying around free for the taking and Nabokov had praised it so highly, but I wasn't particularly looking forward to it. Because I had heard that the eponym was pretty unsympathetic, and the course of the plot was dreary and depressing. Well, it turns out I didn't hear wrong: Emma is horrible and nothing good happens for all 400 pages of it - but I hadn't been told the most important thing about the book, which is that it's a black comedy. The incredible pettiness and stupidity of all of the characters' (not just Emma's) self absorption and the way they hurtle towards their own ruin as if filled with zeal for the prospect make it an entertaining spectacle. An ironic anti-spectacle as everything about their fuckups is unrelievedly trite and banal. It's like watching a trainwreck, and then watching someone get the bright idea of clearing the wreckage from the tracks by ramming another train into them, and then following through on that idea by sending two trains one from each side. It's glorious in it's utter lack of gloriousness.I'm going to dock it a star though because in my current mood I really could have done with something a little more upbeat.more
I'll think I'll end up reading this one again. I really enjoyed the story and the found the progression of the plot to be realistic (if not always satisfying). I can't decide how I feel about Emma Bovary. I get the sense that I may get a different impression of this book if I read it in a more allegorical, more dispassionate frame of mind.more
I am really enjoying diving into these books with only whatever vague notions about them I have picked up over the years. What I knew about Madame Bovary when I started it: she has an affair? So I was a little thrown when the book started with some boy named Charles who was going to school and being made fun of, and we followed him on to being a not-very-good student and a not-very-confident doctor. He marries a woman chosen by his mother, but although both of them have the same name, neither his mother nor this wife are the Madame Bovary. The wife is a widow who is supposed to be rich, but she is older and not very attractive. Finally, when Charles attends to a man on his farm and meets the man's daughter Emma, I realize she will become the title Madame Bovary.And so she does, after the widow dies and a decent amount of time has passed. Emma is beautiful and vivacious, and positive that married life will be incredibly romantic, just like in the novels. Soon, she realizes that she is not exactly swept away by a great love for Charles. She finds herself attracted to a young man in their town, and they do that dance of wondering if the other one is interested, but no one will come out and say it because it would be unseemly. Eventually, he leaves town. Emma tries devoting herself to being the best wife (and mother, there is a child in the book who is clearly not on Emma's radar and therefore not really on ours), but she finds that she now not only doesn't have that all-consuming love for Charles, she kind of can't stand him. What to do, what to do? Enter Rodolphe, who we are introduced to as a serial seducer. At this point, I started calling Emma "poor, stupid Madame Bovary." Of course, she falls for him. Of course, he is not nearly as committed as she is. And it doesn't end well for her. There's a lot more plot after that, but I really want to talk about what the book is saying. Two things stood out to me. One: adultery is just as boring as marriage if you carry it on long enough. Two: adultery is bad, but buying on credit is worse. I enjoyed the read, although the last 10% was sort of pointless to me. Some quotes:"Charles's conversation was commonplace as a street pavement, and everyone's ideas trooped through it in their everyday garb, without exciting emotion, laughter, or thought.""But the disparaging of those we love always alienates us from them to some extent. We must not touch our idols; the gilt sticks to our fingers.""Besides, speech is a rolling-mill that always thins out the sentiment."more
What an incredibly unpleasant woman! I usually have nothing against an unlikeable protagonist, as they often make for interesting reading subjects, but this Madame Bovary had no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Fickle, vain, selfish, materialistic, disloyal, unappreciative and self-delusional as she was, I kept waiting for something truly horrible to happen, other than her habitual small hypocritical cruelties to her husband and her constant infidelity. (slight spoiler here) Her tragic end was too long in coming and even there, she somehow didn't offer satisfaction. (end of spoiler) She is bored with her life, married to a husband who idolizes her but offers little intellectual or romantic stimulation, she is bored with her little daughter and her perfect little bourgeois home, even as her husband puts no restriction on her spending so she can decorate it with every possible amenity she might desire. She is bored with reading... bored with life. The kind of woman who, even were she to live in this modern world and have all the choices she might desire, would probably still marry a boring rich man so she could go right on being bored and insufferable. I only rated this book with three stars because it IS Flaubert who writes beautifully of course, but I was bored out of my mind throughout. Maybe it's catching?more
BkC153) Flaubert, Gustave, [MADAME BOVARY] (tr. Lydia Davis): Classic novel, deathless. Sorta like a literary zombie. Rating: 3* of fiveThe Book Description: As if one is really necessary. Well, here it is:A literary event: one of the world's most celebrated novels, in a magnificent new translation.Seven years ago, Lydia Davis brought us an award-winning, rapturously reviewed new translation of Marcel Proust's Swann's Way that was hailed as "clear and true to the music of the original" (Los Angeles Times) and "a work of creation in its own right" (Claire Messud, Newsday). Now she turns her gifts to the book that redefined the novel as an art form.Emma Bovary is the original desperate housewife. Beautiful but bored, she is married to the provincial doctor Charles Bovary yet harbors dreams of an elegant and passionate life. Escaping into sentimental novels, she finds her fantasies dashed by the tedium of her days. Motherhood proves to be a burden; religion is only a brief distraction. In an effort to make her life everything she believes it should be, she spends lavishly on clothes and on her home and embarks on two disappointing affairs. Soon heartbroken and crippled by debts, Emma takes drastic action with tragic consequences for her husband and daughter. When published in 1857, Madame Bovary was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for its heroine. Today the novel is considered the first masterpiece of realist fiction. Flaubert sought to tell the story objectively, without romanticizing or moralizing (hence the uproar surrounding its publication), but whereas he was famously fastidious about his literary style, many of the English versions seem to tell the story in their own style. In this landmark translation, Lydia Davis honors the nuances and particulars of a style that has long beguiled readers of French, giving new life in English to Flaubert's masterwork. My Review: Realism à la Balzac gets a hefty infusion of Romanticism. The novel will always be very important for this reason. It was Flaubert's trial for obscenity, due to his authorial refusal to explicitly condemn Emma Bovary for adultery, that opened the floodgates of “immoral” realistic fiction. If anyone needs any further reason to read the book, it's also got some juicy Faustian bargaining in it. Plus everybody dies. (Srsly how can anything about this famous book be a spoiler? Don't complain to me about it.)So the review is really about this translation by Lydia Davis. She's alleged to have done a fabulous, marvelous job.Uh huh.Then, in sudden tenderness and discouragement, Charles turned to his wife, saying:“Kiss me, my dear!”“Leave me alone!” she said, red with anger.“What is it? What is it?” he said, stupefied. “Calm yourself! Don't be upset!...You know how much I love you!...Come to me!”“Stop!” she shouted with a terrible look. (Part II, ch.8)Literal translation isn't always the best. Can you, like me, hear the nails and smell the sawdust as this wooden edifice is erected? Can you, like me, feel the uncertain sway of the uneven floorboards as we ascend ever farther up Flaubert's towering if creaky scaffolding?A well-furnished mind has Bovary in it. Unless you want to slug through the mannered 19th-century French, or have a high tolerance for sawdusty English prose, I'd say do the Cliffs Notes and call it good.more
When I was first reading Madame Bovary, I absolutely hated it. I don't mean that it filled me with feelings of disgust or anything like that; I just didn't care about anything that was happening at all. It was tedious and 'bleah,' and I was mostly reading it so that when I reached the end I could say that I'd done it. Also, I suspect that the translation that I read is not the best.But then, at exactly half-way through the book, things started happening and I actually took an interest in them. The first half took me several months of occasionally picking up the book to get through, a few pages at a time. I blazed through the second half of the book in a couple days.Without any detailed spoilers, I will describe it thus: there is a complete lack of sympathy but plenty of misbehavior, dissolution, ruination, desperation, woe, and lingering death followed by more ruination. I am apparently some sort of terrible person, because I enjoyed the h**l out of it. “More, more! Feed me your delicious despair! Omnomnomnomnom!” I'm glad that this edition had an afterward instead of a forward: introductions to classic books have a tendency to ruin the story for you if you don't already know it. (I didn't.)more
Okay, to be clear, this book was not at all what I thought it would be. I was, no lie, expecting torrid sex scenes. Why? I have no idea. I just was. Funny thing is, I don’t read anything even approaching erotica so I’m not sure where this thought came from. Obviously, something was lost in translation for me. Charles Bovary is a less than ambitious man but he’s a good man. A doctor by trade, he’s happy practicing in a quiet French hamlet. After he starts his medical practice, his mother finds him a wife; an older and rather unhappy woman who dies early on in their marriage leaving Charles the opportunity to find love. He believes he may have found it in a woman named Emma who he met while setting her father’s broken leg. Emma has dreams, the first of which is to get away from her father’s home, so when Charles asks, she agrees to marry him. Married life is agony for her. She has a pleasant home, a husband who cares for her immensely --- almost to the point of smothering her --- and she has few tangible complaints. What she wants is romance though. After attending a ball, it’s all she can think about and her boring life holds no interest for her. Charles decides that Emma needs a change of scenery and moves the family (a child will soon be born to the couple) to Yonville. Emma soon finds herself entranced by a law student, Léon Dupuis, who seems to return her affection. Appalled by her own thoughts, she refuses to act and Léon soon leaves to finish his degree. However, when Emma meets Rodolphe Boulanger, all thoughts of propriety go out the window and she gives in to his advances and starts the affair. She wants to run away, but Rodolphe, who has had several mistresses, decides that she is too clingy and breaks off the affair on the morning they’re to leave town together. Shattered by the end of the affair, Emma falls into a deep depression and sickness. When she finally recovers, Charles again tries to re-interest her in life this time believing the theatre will be the answer. It’s here that she once more meets Léon and begins her second affair. Lie after lie build up as do her debts. Emma is incapable of handling the lies or the debts and begins begging others for help, which doesn’t arrive. In a final dramatic act, she deals the only way she can. At first, I felt sorry for Charles. He was boring but loving. He wasn’t ambitious at all and was happy with his life. He had a beautiful wife and child and a medical practice that provided the necessities of life. But, again, he was boring. Then he tried to pin everything wrong with his wife on a nervous condition which annoyed me and any sympathy I may have had for the clueless husband vanished. Emma on the other hand, doesn’t exactly deserve any praise. She wants everything, expensive things, is constantly bored, obsessive, and refuses to see any good in her life. She’s always looking for the next best thing. And it must be said, she’s a horrid excuse for a mother. Emma is interesting though and the reason to keep reading because every other character in this book is flat. Toward the end though, when the proverbial dirty laundry is aired, everyone is at fault in some way or another and it’s hard to have any sympathy for any of the characters. My book had two additional sections at the end about the book itself, trials, bannings, etc. I didn’t read them. I think I wanted to look back on the book from my own perspective and not the perspective of a scandalous 19th Century trial discussing the need for a stricter moral code. Also, I think it would have made me upset and I enjoyed this book and didn’t want it to be marred. So, back to my first paragraph --- the sex. It’s there but it’s off screen. There’s kissing, there’s heavy petting, but shall we say, not what I was expecting considering the ruckus this book caused. Then again, that was back in the day. I don’t want to get into a discussion of morals, really, I’m the last person, but it’s an interesting part of this story and while I never felt lectured to, obviously, Emma is a lesson. But her character is more than simply a woman having an affair, she’s a woman unhinged but somewhat deserving of some understanding, even if it’s just to understand her depression better.more
What a wonderful novel -- and what a surprise! I read it in French fifty years and remembered virtually nothing except boredom (my own, and Emma's) and decided, now that I am retired and reading fiction, that I should try again. Emma's boredom is still there, as is Charles' stupidity, but oh, the pity of it all! Despite the fact that the novel evokes a time and place very powerfully, the story seemed timeless to me -- far more so than that of Anna Karenina, for example, who was to a large extent the victim of a specific social situation. Emma, in contrast, is a victim of her own illusions, which denies her the joy of being truly (if stupidly) loved.more
I had to read this book in school and in my memory the book was as boring as Emma Bovary found life itself but I thought it was worth rereading to see if several decades worth of reading in the meantime would change how i perceived the book. It has, naturally.It's the story of Emma who marries a doctor, Charles. She finds life in a small French village and marraige itself far different from what she thought it would be. She's bored, she finds it all, including motherhood, tedious. She becomes unfaithful and after two lovers, when that doesn't give her the satisfaction and happiness she craves, she then gets herself deeper and deeper into debt until she can see no way out.Emma is never happy. She grew up devouring romantic fiction and it's given her the perception of the ideal life. Romance, adventure, someone to put her on a pedestal and spoil her and love her. She finds out that life is not filled with white knights sweeping her off her feet yet she never lets go of that yearning and her affairs and spending habits are all her ways of trying to find that ideal. Her husband bumbles through life oblivious to her unhappiness or her escapades but the story isn't about him.The author has a lovely way with words and description and tells the story well if not a bit overly wordy at times. It's certainly better than how I remember it though it won't be to everyone's taste.more
I hated this book. Emma Bovary is boring, vain and without purpose. Charles Bovary as stupid and boring as his wife finds him. most of the other characters just annoying. I read up to the 200 page mark, the end of the affair with the odious Rodolphe, and lost the will to carry on. I then looked up the plot line in Wikipedia. The thought of another boring affair and a bad end for all was too much and I have given up. I fail to see why this is such an acclaimed book. It may be the translation, but I found nothing extraordinary or exciting about the prose, plot or characters.more
This book should have been the mister rather than the missus Bovary. In my opinion Charles Bovary is what you would call a nineteenth century sad sack. When we first meet Charles (for he starts and ends the book as you'll soon see) he is a shy student who grows up to become a second rate doctor (more on that later). He has an overbearing mother who convinces him to marry a much older, supposedly rich, but nevertheless nagging woman who makes him miserable. oh yeah, and add insult to injury, she's nowhere near wealthy. After the lying lady's death Charles meets Emma Rouault (our ahem - heroine), the daughter of Charles's patient. He falls in love and wins her heart only to have her mope about because her life soon after the wedding isn't exciting or wealthy enough. Poor Charles! But, the sad tale of Charles Bovary doesn't stop here. There's more! As mentioned before he is a second rate doctor so his attempts to heal a clubfooted patient fail miserably. That failure only irritates our dear Emma even more. She soon convinces herself she deserves better in the way of the company of other more exciting and accomplished men and by spending Charles's money. Emma convinces herself adultery isn't a sin because it's cloaked in beauty and romance and how can those things be bad? And isn't she, as Charles's wife, entitled to Charles's money? So, Charles is in debt and his father dies. What's left? Emma attempts suicide and our Doctor Bovary (irony of ironies) can't save her. After her death he finds her illicit love letters and learns of her infidelity...then he dies. The end.Nope. Not a stitch of happiness in this classic.more
Gustave Flaubert famously declared "No lyricism, no digressions, personality of the author absent", when commenting to his friend and literary confidant Louis Bouilhet about his tone of writing Madame Bovary. That is the hallmark of Flaubert's style and the aim of his hard work writing slowly to make sure he had just the right words. He became his characters, entered into their lives and dreamt their dreams. This resulted in the masterpiece that has become a classic of French literature.The story is one of a doctor's wife, Emma Bovary, who has adulterous affairs and lives beyond her means in order to escape the banalities and emptiness of provincial life. Though the basic plot is rather simple, even archetypal, the novel's true art lies in its details and hidden patterns. And in the psychological details portrayed by the author, for example in chapter seven: "for her, life was as cold as an attic with a window looking to the north, and ennui, like a spider, was silently spinning its shadowy web in every cranny of her heart." This, only one of many instances of the psychology of Madame Bovary and Flaubert's continuing search for le mot juste (the right word). Demonstrating the truth of Keats's dictum about truth and beauty, Flaubert achieves a mood of 'aesthetic mysticism' that has seldom been reached by others. The result is one that we as readers can enjoy and marvel at the power of his words.more
An inexperienced, passionate, romantic dreamer of a girl marries a boring, medicre, widowed, milksop, country doctor with predictable consequences.My feelings about Madame Bovary are ambiguous. At times the writing seemed uneven. There were many brilliant passages, but many that were not so great. That might have been the fault of the translation.I really couldn't sympathize with either Emma Bovary, nor her husband. The character that I had the most compassion for was Berthe, a minor character.I'm glad that I read this, though, because I did enjoy some of the more outstanding passages, and it was so rich with symbolism and other literary devices, such as foreshadowing.I can't help but conclude that Flaubert was a gifted writer.more
Language was not as absorbing as I'd heard to expect from Flaubert. Try another translation.more
Emma, the young daughter of a widowed farmer, is asked to marry the country doctor who's recently helped her father fix his broken leg. She has a romantic, unrealistic view of married life that contrasts with the reality of being married to a commonplace country doctor. Charles, her new husband, leads a boring life. Although he adores her, she finds his conversation mundane. She tries to love him but he does not fit the images she likes of a dashing husband, always attentive to her.They get invited to a ball at the house of the Marquis d'Andervilliers (hey! thanks to the Nook I can find this guy's name- don't you go and think that I'm so smart to memorize it while I was reading the book) and she and her husband Charles spend a few days at the Marquis's chateau. At the ball, while Charles watches a few guests plays card games, she spends the night waltzing with a young Viscount that matches her romantic images. After they return home, Emma spends her time daydreaming about the ball, the house, the Viscount and everything else she was exposed to during those few days. Her life is totally changed as she becomes more disaffected with her current life.After this time, she starts picking up lovers, one after another, and becomes engulfed in a world of passion based on lies and deceit. Her husband is totally ignorant of her adulterous behavior and, in fact, in one case facilitates her weekly rendezvous with her lover by encouraging her to take piano lessons in the town of Rouen. She spends her time in idyllic weekly encounters with Leon. All this time she is borrowing money to purchase clothes and signs bills of credit putting her husband's finances at risk. All the while he continues to be unaware of her infidelities and his financial difficulties.In the end, she faces the reality that all their belongings are put for sale to cover her debts and that Charles will find all out. Desperately she takes her life.more
Perhaps I'm not cynical enough to fully appreciate Flaubert's work. It's beautifully written, yet I found the majority of the characters unworthy of my, or any other reader's, sympathies (excluding Berthe, the poor child). I'm giving it a 4 because of the eloquent wording and the construction of the setting and people rather than any sort of literary "entertainment value." Probably wouldn't recommend it to everyone, and I surely wouldn't lend it to anybody about to get married, but it is a decent read as long as you're not hooked on happy endings.more
One of my favourite literary heroines is Emma Woodhouse from Jane Austen's novel Emma. She is beautiful, rich and clever, but also lonely and bored. Without a close female companion of her own age, Emma relies on her own overactive imagination to entertain herself, and sets about matchmaking her friends and acquaintances, forcing improbable pairings and embarrassing everyone in the process. Only when she realises that the man of her own dreams has been right under her nose the whole time, does Emma stop inventing romances and settle down to her own happy ending. Emma Bovary, the eponymous heroine of Flaubert's novel, gets all of the above bass-ackwards. Her head filled with romantic stories, she dreams of meeting a passionate hero who will take her away from the oppressive countryside where she lives with her father, but instead she marries the first man who comes along and offers for her - Charles Bovary, a boring bourgeois country doctor. In love with the idea of being in love, Emma's romantic dreams are slowly suffocated when she realises how ordinary her life with Charles will be, so instead she seeks solace in shopping and having affairs with equally shallow men. Both distractions combine to destroy her. 'She merged into her own imaginings, playing a real part, realizing the long dream of her youth, seeing herself as one of those great lovers she had so long envied.'I didn't like Emma Bovary - although both Emmas have their faults, Austen's heroine also has some strength of character and independence of spirit. Flaubert's Emma is dependent on men to make her happy, but she is too superficial herself to notice that her lovers are only using her. In fact, I'm not sure she even cares! They are there to play a part in her romantic fantasies, and when they drop her, she starts looking for someone - or something - else to fill the void. Mme. Bovary isn't easy to care about - the original bored housewife, she is selfish, vain, materialistic and never content. Like Anna Karenina, I think we are meant to applaud that she breaks out of the confines of being a wife and mother, but unlike Tolstoy, Flaubert doesn't pity his heroine or demand the reader's sympathy, so I could put up with Emma's moping and mithering. In fact, all the characters are very believable in their faults and failings, especially poor unsuspecting Charles. Homais the chemist I could have done without, however. The only relevant part he plays in the whole novel is to supply the means to Emma's end.For a nineteenth century novel, Madame Bovary is still easy and enjoyable to read, with a dramatic - if rather Freudian - ending, and a cynical take on love and marriage.more
I wanted to punch Emma in the face throughout the entire book. Flaubert's writing made me continue the novel though. I enjoyed the novel, not because of the plot but because of the fact it was a realistic novel.I'm pretty sure I am the only person who actually cackled when Emma's death was painful. She is so dumb.more
I agree with Will Cuppy in preferring Salammbo to Mme. Bovary, but I felt I should have it as a classic. I was ashamed because once in class i said Mme. B. herself was stupid without having read it and a student who had read it disagreed.more
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